Pirates Claim RHP George Kontos from Giants; DFA Jhan Marinez and Danny Ortiz

The Pittsburgh Pirates were busy on Saturday afternoon besides making the trade for Sean Rodriguez. They also claimed right-handed pitcher George Kontos off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. To make room on the 40-man roster for Rodriguez and Kontos, both Jhan Marinez and Danny Ortiz were designated for assignment.

Wade LeBlanc has been reinstated from the bereavement list as well. No move has to be made for LeBlanc on the 25-man roster because Rodriguez has time to report to the Pirates.

Kontos is a 32-year-old reliever, who has pitched 307 games over the last seven seasons, with six of those seasons spent with the Giants. He was originally a name included in the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte deal with the Yankees back in 2008. Interestingly enough, a second name originally included in that deal was Phil Coke, who pitched for the Pirates last year.

Kontos is making $1.75 M this season and will have two years of team control left, so he gives the Pirates a possible bullpen arm through the end of 2019. This season, he has a 3.83 ERA and a 4.02 FIP in 51.2 innings over 50 appearances, with 17 walks and 55 strikeouts. He has a 1.61 GO/AO ratio, which is well above his career average, both during his time in the minors and in the majors. The 9.6 SO/9IP ratio is also the highest of his career, but more grounders and strikeouts haven’t led to better results. For his career, he has a 3.05 ERA over 315.2 innings and a 3.72 FIP.

Marinez has a 3.18 ERA in 34 innings over 24 appearances with the Pirates, but he has a 4.56 FIP to go along with that low ERA. He also has a 1.35 WHIP and 26 strikeouts.

Danny Ortiz is hitting .259/.291/.450 in 86 games with Indianapolis. He has hit 12 homers this year and 17 in each of the previous two seasons. Ortiz played nine games for the Pirates earlier this season.

UPDATE 3:26 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…

I like the addition of Kontos, and I like it a lot more than Joaquin Benoit. For one, Kontos has been a better reliever, and will be a better option as a workhorse in the middle innings. But the Pirates also have him under control for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, adding depth to future bullpens. I’ve written that I don’t think their chances this year are strong. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be adding this year. But it makes sense to add players in deals like they’ve made today, where they’re getting guys for beyond the current season.

I’d say that Kontos could be a really big pickup for them if he finds a way to cut his home run problems down (current 17.8% HR/FB rate vs a career 9.8% mark), but that hasn’t really been the Pirates’ specialty this year, and really has been an issue all across baseball. Even with that, he has a 3.83 ERA and 3.55 xFIP. Those marks would make him the third best reliever in this bullpen, behind Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio. Third best isn’t a high praise, so I’ll say “easily third best” to show that he has fairly good numbers.

One fun fact here: When the Pirates traded Xavier Nady to the Yankees, they received Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, and a choice of a pair of players. They could either take Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen, or George Kontos and Phil Coke. They went with Karstens/McCutchen. However, they added Coke last year, and now have Kontos. So they eventually got all four pitchers. And if Neal Huntington says that they’ve been looking at Kontos for a long time, you’ll know it’s true.

  • The Pirates would be better served to tell Benoit to go sit in a bar somewhere for the rest of his life and just pay him his salary

  • Cole sucking again and the bats are having a coma.

  • The Pirates could not keep Marinez.
    He hit too well to pitch in Pittsburgh.

  • Positive moves let’s see
    Where the young pitching will take us

  • Agree with Tim here. This is very nice under the radar move.

  • Both guys are here next season which are exactly the type of moves they need to make right now.

  • pirates are all in

    • Were we able to hold onto all of the AAAA MI’s? What benefit is getting SRod and then keeping all the rest of that trash.

      • I live in Atlanta. They just promoted two MI to be Starters and demoted former #1 overall pick, SS, Dansby Swanson to AAA. They have Freeman and Adams to man 1B. SRod has no place on team which warrants his salary.

  • Much better than the deadline deal. Clint needs to remember Benoit’s age and get him into games earlier so he can go to bed. A guy his age can’t stay awake too often at such late hours and function well.

    • No more Benoit in close games. Thanks.

      Where has Hudson been? I guess kontos will now slot into the 7th spot with perhaps schugel and Leblanc

      • Hudson very seldom comes through. To me a major disappointment. But so was Watson. Just imagine if Hurdle moved to Rivero as closer much sooner. The pirates might be in first

  • Agreed Lee especially if Martinez goes unclaimed and we still have a few years of control. Would Conner Joe have been rule 5 eligible this off season?

  • Small but appreciated upgrades.

    • They’re clearly pushing the chips to the middle of the table here……I’m kidding. Upgrades are upgrades. Neither move harms them. Why the hell not.

      • If these moves would have been made ( for similar quality players ) right after the Brewers sweep, or even earlier, the Pirates would be right up there with the Cubs and Brewers. Neil hesitated, and we know what happens to those who hesitate. He has good company though. The Cardinals, Brewers, and especially the Astros, didn’t do enough either. Astros players aren’t really happy at all about not adding another starter.

        • Big difference between the Astros position and then the brewers and the pirates / cards. Seems to me both Mozeliak and Huntington were realists about their 2017 teams The brewers also know they are not ready to really challenge the Cubs and didn’t want to give away top prospects they are relying on. As to Astros they didn’t get better to compete in playoffs and World Series and that is what players are reacting to.

          • I think having a prospect like Brinson works against the Brewers because every team is holding out hoping they’ll flinch. The dodgers didn’t flinch on Bellinger last winter and it worked out in a big way.

          • Astros FO is smart enough to know it’s fools gold to deal away your best prospects for rentals and faux front line SP’s like Darvish and Gray most seasons.

          • 2 days later and I still don’t see those mighty mighty Cubs running away with the Central. I wonder why when guys like you act like they are the 2nd coming ?

        • PittsburghKid
          August 5, 2017 8:11 pm

          No, Kontos and a newly activated S. Rod would not have kept us next to the Brewers and Cubs. Kontos has been decent but not good enough to make the team win 5 more games and don’t get me wrong I love Rodriguez and am thrilled he’s back but his .211 AVG wouldn’t have helped us win those 5 more games.

          • You need to read what somebody actually says, not what you THINK they said.

            • PittsburghKid
              August 7, 2017 3:30 pm

              That would have been better but similar players to Kontos and Srod would not have made a five win difference. Srod is not comprable to Kendrick and Kendrick, while better, wouldn’t have made that big a difference over such a short time. And you said similar players so saying Kontos and Rodriguez as my example is fine because that is what you said, no where in that post did you say anything about howie Kendrick.

    • Sean Rod is the biggest pick-up in the past 18 months!

      • Which says more about the piss poor job NH has done the last 18 months than SR. Just saying.